Earthquake diplomacy

Tuesday 28 Feb 2023

Earthquake diplomacy
Shoukri with Al-Assad


IN A MOVE that indicates thawing relations, Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri visited Syria and Turkey to express solidarity after the two countries were rocked last month by devastating earthquakes that took the lives of over 50,000 people.  

The aim of Shoukri’s meeting with Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad in Damascus, along with Egyptian and other Arab parliamentarians and their counterparts in the Syrian capital, was to show support in a move that could lead to Syria’s further political reintegration in the Arab world. Syria was suspended from the Arab League in 2011 after the start of the Syrian civil war.

After his brief visit to Damascus, Shoukri headed to Turkey for the first time since 2016 and met top Turkish diplomat Mevlut Cavusoglu in Adana. The ministers then travelled to Turkey’s Mediterranean port of Mersin where a second Egyptian ship carrying humanitarian relief docked.

“It is important to agree on a roadmap for the speedy normalisation and restoration of relations between the two countries,” Shoukri said.

He stressed that political will for the restoration of ties was strong in both countries and that it was important to set up “a strong foundation” that restoration work “would rise upon”.

Cavusoglu said the two top diplomats discussed concrete steps to improve relations, adding that ties could be carried to a much higher level.

Egypt has been among several Arab countries to send aid to Syria and Turkey in response to the earthquake.

* A version of this article appears in print in the 2 March, 2023 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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